Some Midstate pediatricians turning away unvaccinated kids, others modify care

When a patient calls Camp Hill pediatrician Dr. Guillermo Garcia, he will likely ask if their child is up-to-date on their vaccinations.

“Most of our patients are immunized,” he said, “but I always bring it up.”

That’s because he says children without vaccinations put infants and others in danger.

“They continue to expose people and especially small children immunosuppressed people, people that are being treated for Leukemia or have a blood disorder,” he added, noting that with those conditions vaccinations can be less effective.

The consequences of illnesses like Measles can also be more serious in already-ill people. “It’s not fair,” he said.

Since a positive case of Measles turned up in Cumberland County last week Dr. Garcia has yet to encounter a vaccination-adverse family. He says if he did, the child may be required to use a different door to his office.

“If they call and we know they are not immunized there might be a different entrance. Especially if we are suspecting a infectious disease like measles,” he said.

There are many other doctors in the Midstate who are taking an even more strict approach. According to parents of patients Heritage Pediatrics in Hampden Township is just one of dozens of practices in the area discouraging parents of unvaccinated children to come to their waiting room.

Heritage was unavailable for comment on Wednesday and in the story we said that they would not treat unvaccinated children “at all”. Thursday PinnacleHealth sent Abc27 a clarification;

“Choosing not to vaccinate children poses a serious health risk to the individual child and to the entire community. PinnacleHealth providers are committed to educating all patients, children and adults, on the importance of vaccines. In the case of pediatric vaccines the Medical Group providers will work with parents to hear about their concerns and provide factual information about vaccine safety and their importance. In some cases the Medical Group providers are able to offer an alternate schedule for pediatric vaccines that still achieves the goal of timely and complete vaccination. For our youngest population that means completing the recommended series by age 2 years – and then ensuring timely boosters at subsequent regular visits. For other patients the Medical Group focuses on age approprite vaccination throughout the entire life span, as vaccines are not just got children.”

Dr. Garcia wants parents who do not vaccinate to understand the risks and responsibility that comes with a religious or philosophical exemption. He says given the infectiousness of Measles, if an unvaccinated child has been exposed to the virus they should be quarantined for at least 21 days.

“It is hard you know, we can say ‘Well… go see someone else’,” he noted, “Well, if everyone refuses who is going to take care of these kids? Just because the parents were misinformed.”

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